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In the last decade, a number of studies have reported sex differences in selective attention, but a unified explanation for these effects is still missing. This study aims to better understand these differences and put them in an evolutionary psychological context. 418 adult participants performed a computer-based Simon task, in which they responded to the direction of a left or right pointing arrow appearing left or right from a fixation point. Women were more strongly influenced by task-irrelevant spatial information than men (i.e., the Simon effect was larger in women, Cohen’s d = 0.39). Further, the analysis of sex differences in behavioral adjustment to errors revealed that women slow down more than men following mistakes (d = 0.53). Based on the combined results of previous studies and the current data, it is proposed that sex differences in selective attention are caused by underlying sex differences in core abilities, such as spatial or verbal cognition.
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- Sex differences in the Simon task help to interpret sex differences in selective attention
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg